Celebrating sporting events in the office can be a major morale booster – but they can also serve as a serious distraction – so should HR ignore big games or make an occasion out of them?
"Popular sporting or entertainment events create an opportunity for companies to build a positive office culture, boost morale and bring employees together," says Koula Vasilopoulos, a district president for staffing firm OfficeTeam.
The firm recently conducted a study of Canadian senior managers and found that 59 per cent think celebrating sporting events can boost employee happiness but just 26 per cent said their employer organized activities tied to events such as March Madness.
Among those whose firms do get into the games, the top benefit was offering employees a distraction from the daily grind (60 per cent), followed by showing that the company offers a healthy mix of work and play (14 per cent).
“Organizing celebrations or friendly competitions can go a long way in preventing staff burnout and enhancing productivity,” says Vasilopoulos.
John Mills, EVP at Rideau, agrees – he told HRM that employers should look at sporting events as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.
“Rather than seeing it as a distraction, I think companies actually need to embrace it,” he said. “Companies that embrace these types of event – the ones that mean something to individuals in the company – are the companies that will get people more engaged.”
While celebrating sporting events has the ability to drive engagement, Mills also warned that employers could drive disengagement if they try to limit involvement.
“To not let folks get involved or get excited about things that brighten their day, you will get negative engagement and the last thing you want is that disengagement,” he said.
“People might not be listening to the game on a headset or watching it on their monitor but they’re shut out from what they’re supposed to be doing and that’s certainly not a good thing.”
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